Monday, January 7, 2013

Filling in the gaps

Orange-fronted Parakeet

Periodically, eBird urges its users to go birding in under-birded areas, where new data can help to fill gaps in our knowledge of bird distribution. In the urban areas in the US (the Northeast, or California, for example), this is easier said than done. With so many birders now submitting data from their local birding patches, birders in those areas have to venture far afield to reach these lesser known places.

But here in Honduras, we don't have to drive all that far to get into 'eBird unchartered territory'. So yesterday, Roselvy and I set off for the Pacific dry forest and started collecting data (i.e. birding) on a dirt road that starts only 15 km from our house. We drove south for about 45 km, stopping every once in a while where either the habitat looked interesting or we noticed bird activity. 

We went in at La Venta (at approximately 1,000 masl) and came out at Orocuina (100 masl), and did 6 checklists; after that, we continued south on a paved road along the Choluteca River, for another 3 checklists. I thought we had filled in two, maybe three eBird quadrants, but as I see now, we actually managed to hit four! 

Our trip was exploratory; at most of these spots we did not stay very long, three spots we birded more extensively. We also found a few spots that merit further investigation. We did not find any great rarities, but we collected distributional data on 66 species, including residents such as Lesser Roadrunner, Elegant Trogon, White-tipped Dove, Salvin's Emerald, Rufous-capped Warbler and Orange-fronted Parakeet, as well as winter visitors like Indigo Bunting, Western Tanager, Western Kingbird, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher and Mourning Dove.

Banded Wren
Banded Wren is a characteristic bird of the Pacific dry forest: we saw and heard many yesterday. This one came in on a pygmy-owl imitation. Curiously, I got a lot of response everywhere I whistled that, but never from a pygmy-owl itself. Of course they are there, and I'm sure repeat visits will turn them up. Other birds we suspect to be there (Thicket Tinamou, Long-tailed Manakin) we will look for once the breeding season advances, and these species will be more vocal.